By the way Texas' State Board of Education acts, many might think that Texans' in general want an education system that spends more time teaching specific conservative ideological positions than genuinely preparing children for their future lives.
A poll conducted in May by the Texas Freedom Network suggests that those people are just the rowdy and loud minority. After extensive analysis, the Texas Freedom Network is going from city to city with pollster Anna Greenberg showing the good news: Texans are on our side.
Take a look at these stats:
- “72 percent of likely Texas voters want teachers and scholars, not politicians, to be responsible for writing curriculum requirements for public schools.”
- “The overwhelming support for putting experts in charge of writing curriculum standards is bipartisan (84 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Independents) and evident in all of the state's major urban regions.
- “Fifty-seven percent of voters oppose the SBOE's actions after hearing information about the changes being made to the initial recommendations, while just 29 percent support the revisions.”
- After hearing the description, likely voter groups that are expected to one day become a larger force in Texas politics (suburban voters, young voters, and Hispanic voters), were all opposed to the recent SBOE revisions by amounts of 56%, 61%, and 55% respectively.
A couple things of note, though.
First, Greenberg did her best to ensure that the poll wouldn't be weighted to get answers that liberals want to hear. The polling firm's likely voter model used in this poll takes into account an expected Republican/Conservative wave in 2010. The questions were all deliberately made as neutral, if not conservative, as possible. (For instance, a question that learned that 80% of Texans support comprehensive sex education specifically mentioned condoms.)
Second, the Democratic decision would not be for “majority rules.” Progressive positions are not always favored by a majority of Texans, but our problems with the State Board are not that we cannot liberally brainwash students. Our problems are that some conservatives are trying to do such for their side. Look at the question that led to the first given stat: “Who do you think should be responsible for writing curriculum standards and textbook requirements for Texas' public schools: Teachers and academic scholars OR An elected state school board?”
Given both choices, Texans choose experts and teachers. Not only do Texans choose experts and teachers, Anna Greenberg has said that her further analysis showed that there is not a single subgroup of Texans, according to the poll, that would choose otherwise. That includes religious, even fundamentalist, conservatives in this state.
The State Board of Education is a sham. As we all know by now, they ignore the experts and go off on their own. But when even a majority of Texas Republicans disagree with the partisan process, you know it's time for a change.
Next session, let's take a tad bit of time to reform this school board. Until then, let's also elect board members who give a bit more respect to those who actually know what they're talking about. Because, after all, that's what Texans want.